Obesity scheme creates a buzz

An obesity programme unique to Taranaki has attracted the interest of the Ministry of Health.

More than 300 youngsters have been through Whanau Pakari, an intervention programme for obese children and young people aged 5 to 16 years, since it began two years ago.

Pediatrician Yvonne Anderson said they had incorporated a research element to the programme, so they would be able to tell how well it was working.

"It's a unique programme and the Ministry of Health are interested in the outcomes. It's certainly got implications for Taranaki and nationally."

The programme was set up to address the obesity epidemic, she said. Whanau Pakari was whanau-based and though it was targeting Maori and Pasifica children, it was open to anyone.

It was unique because the assessments happened at home.

The key was to increase the accessibility of services and it seemed to have worked, Anderson said.

Families saw the healthy lifestyles co-ordinator, who assessed diet and physical activity.

"Each child gets discussed at a multi-disciplinary meeting, and we make a plan and they receive a 12-month programme."

Referrals come through Maori health workers, GPs and other health providers or people can contact Whanau Pakari direct.

Taranaki Daily News